Today I had my first experience using Registered Mail. I had to send an item back to the manufacturer for repair. The warranty suggested that I send the item via Registered Mail. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I packaged up my item and headed off the post office (which I am proud to say that I located quickly, without getting lost). When I arrived at the post office I was quite surprised and delighted to discover that I was the only post office patron present, and was not required to wait in line. The postal worker pleasantly greeted me and asked if he could help me. I walked up to the counter, handed him my package, and told him I would like to ship the package as Registered Mail.
He dropped the package as though I had just told him it was radioactive. He coughed, straitened his glasses, leaned across the counter, and confirmed, “You said Registered Mail, Ma’am?” When I verified that he had in fact heard me correctly, pleasant postal worker was replaced with flustered postal worker. Perhaps it was his first experience with Registered mail too. He fumbled in his pocket for a minute and pulled out a key, unlocked a drawer under his desk, and handed me a pile of paperwork. Fortunately I am well practiced in filling out paperwork. While I wielded my ballpoint pen and attacked the forms, he proceeded to wrap my entire package in official brown post office tape. Then he stamped all six surfaces of my package several times with a bold red “REGISTERED” stamp and the date. Then he carefully made sure that the registered date was also stamped around all edges of my package. He mentioned that no one would be able to open my package without the recipient knowing.
The whole procedure took enough time for a long line of disgruntled postal patrons to gather. I could feel their impatience mounting with each stamp, and I felt kind of bad. Once my package was sufficiently secured the flustered postal worker looked nervously around the room. Obviously unsettled by the number of people he saw in the post office lobby, he again leaned across the desk and apologetically whispered, “Ma’am, I need you to declare the value of the item.” I declared the value of the item as requested, and he again glanced anxiously around the room before writing it down on the appropriate space on the form. I almost felt like a spy sending super secret documents involving the most sensitive issues of national security, except for the fact that the process wasn’t subtle at all.